Rearranging beads on a necklace: reflections on Burmese Karen media in exile
My name is Violet Cho and I want to tell you a story about myself as a journalist with Karen media. I am not a widely known person and I make mistakes but I want to ask you, the listener, to pardon me if something I say is wrong. I’m just telling you this story based on what I have learnt and experienced. I will make use of autoethnography to reflect on my role in the ‘professionalisation’ of Karen media along 'Western’ lines. I also want to propose an alternative way forward, exploring possible principles for a ‘Karen’ media model.
Throughout Karen political history, media has been an important tool within the struggle for Karen liberation and democracy. Since the beginning of Karen nationalism, activists have founded news organisations as part of political strategy. Contemporary Karen media organisations working in exile in Thailand have also come from and are part of the liberation movement. However the recent (re)adoption of Western style journalism into Karen media has transformed the way media operate and its place in the national movement. Throughout this essay, I will try to incorporate Karen ways of storytelling.
Violet Cho was the inaugural Asian Journal Fellow at Auckland University of Technology’s Pacific Media Centre in 2009, where she completed a Bachelor of Communication Studies (Honours). As well as the Karen media mentioned in the article, Violet has also worked with Burmese exiled media groups Irrawaddy and Radio Free Asia. Violet is currently stateless, residing in Australia.